26/7/16 The exploitation of people – whether their efforts are provided by debt bondage, under threat of violence, psychologically, by imprisonment or deceiving the poor and desperate – is well-documented in most industries where unskilled labor is used. As the Nestle catfood case recently highlighted, these activities are not relegated to rural villages far away from modernity. Exploitation underpins many aspects of the average modern consumables, such as seafood, electronics, textiles, extraction, entertainment, construction and agriculture. These are global industries raising their capital through listed companies on stock markets, through asset managers and investment banks, running their daily operations through hundreds of subsidiaries and via business relationships with other parties across borders and oceans until it ends with forced labor. The proceeds from this exploitation are realized and distributed, supply chains move the products, and money is banked, remitted and reinvested.
19/7/2016 It is a story that unfolds out at sea and out of sight. The Guardian’s coverage of human trafficking in the fishing industry has uncovered beatings, torture and even death. All to bring us cheap seafood.
Horror stories of people forced to work for no pay for years at a time in the production chain of seafood sold by major retailers in Europe and the US have forced the industry to respond.
The question now is how far the fish industry, retailers and restaurants can go in helping to end human rights abuses and use of trafficked labour in the sector.
The Guardian will be hosting a debate on Thursday 15 September 2016, supported by Seafish, to discuss this topic. Please join us.
13/7/2016 The spread of the trafficking of people and forced labour in a growing number of sectors in the UK and Ireland was confirmed as the US State Department released its latest global report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP).
The TIP report records that some migrant workers in the UK were subjected to forced labour in agriculture, cannabis cultivation, construction, food processing, factories, domestic service, nail bars, food services, car washes and on fishing boats in 2015, according to evidence supplied to the State Department by the UK government. Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Romania and Poland were the top countries of origin for foreign trafficking victims.
In Ireland, victims of forced labour were formally identified in the restaurant industry and car washes, and, for the first time, one non-EU victim was identified as a victim of trafficking in the fishing sector.
11/7/2016 Efforts to eradicate modern slavery in the UK are failing, with the number of potential victims being trafficked into Britain rising by 245% over the last five years, according to official figures.
Police and other authorities identified 3,266 people last year thought to have been the victims of modern slavery compared with 946 in 2011, a rise that has prompted disquiet among MPs and charities.
The figures from the National Referral Mechanism – a government safeguarding framework that aims to help potential victims of trafficking – reveal a steady rise of potential slavery victims over the last five years, with the single largest annual increase between 2014 and 2015 when nearly 1,000 extra cases were recorded.
Although ministers believe the figures suggest more victims were willing to come forward for help, others are urging the police to step up their efforts and argue the statistics confirmed that trafficking and slavery are thriving in the UK.
6/7/16 Three people have been convicted of making a “vulnerable” man carry out forced labour for up to five years.
Nicholas Iliff was forced to clean up dog mess and tie the shoelaces of his captors in Oxford.
Christopher Joyce, 81, and daughters Mary Joyce, 60, and Helen Collins, 45, all of Redbridge Hollow, Old Abingdon Road, were convicted.
Previously they were convicted of a conspiracy to defraud Mr Iliff of benefits, Oxford Crown Court heard.
The defendants were arrested as part of Thames Valley Police’s Operation Rague, which related to suspected human exploitation and slavery.
Police said between April 2010 and February 2015 the 52-year-old Mr Iliff lived in a brick shed that was “unfit for human habitation”, on the travellers’ site.
A spokesperson said he was made to do heavy manual labour, working for more than 12 hours at a time, for which he was paid £5 a day.
4/7/2016 Kabra, Merhawi and Filmon are just three of the estimated 15,000 refugee children who have arrived in Sicily in the last year – hundreds of them forced into slavery and prostitution
Behind these children’s smiles lies more pain and suffering than most people endure in a lifetime.
All alone, each fled hunger and poverty in Eritrea, East Africa, for a perilous 2,000-mile journey by foot, bus and boat hoping for a better life in Europe.
Kabra, a 14-year-old girl and boys Merhawi, 12, and Filmon, 11 – raised as Catholics – ran the risk of execution crossing Islam-dominated Sudan because of their religiousbeliefs.
They were even temporarily enslaved by callous gangs and forced to work for them.
Then they joined 700 other desperate refugees on a dangerously overloaded boat for the terrifying two-day trip from Libya to Trapani in Sicily. A journey that has already claimed hundreds of lives this year.
When they did finally arrive in Europe, far from feeling elated they were too scared to speak to anyone except each other for days.
They are so traumatised they are still too frightened to say if their parents are dead or alive.